A rarity in the male-dominated business, particularly in the so-called ?open minded? 60s, the Detroit, Michigan duo of Jan Hendin and Lorraine LeFevre play all their own guitars and keyboards and wrote most of this, their lone album (originally released by ABC in 1969) and there is nary a scent of label interference in sight. There are, however, a bevy of British all-star backing musicians (for some unknown reason, the album was recorded in London), including Magic Carpet tabla player, Kaeshav Sathe, Pentangle drummer, Terry Cox and Sweet Thursday bassist, Brian Odgers, who later sat in on sessions for Elton John and Lou Reed. Opening with a hard-driving cover of The Spike Drivers? pop/psych rocker, ?Break Out The Wine,? the girls? soaring harmonies, tight arrangements and snappy melodies make this one of the best female duo pop/psych albums of the 60s (compare with releases by Kathy & Carol, Lily & Maria, and Wendy & Bonnie). LeFevre?s smooth, string-drenched ballad, ?Bird of Passage? is reminiscent of what we later would come to expect from the Annie Haslam-led Renaissance.
Cascading chimes add a baroque, medieval air to the pair?s resplendent version of the title track (co-written by British guitarists, Davy Graham and Michael Chapman), whose extended code features some of the finest psychedelic percussives (courtesy Cox and Rod Mirfield) of the day. On the minus side, there?s a bit too much Broadway theatricality on Hendin?s ?Foolin? Myself,? which comes across like something off an ABBA solo album by Annafrid Lyngstad or Agnetha F?ltskog or a Barbra Streisand LP and LeFevre?s even more vaudevillian, ?Old Tyme Movie? is either the worst needle drop I?ve ever heard, or a rather primitively recorded, campy saloon tune.
But these are minor setbacks that should not deter you from investigating the album and falling in love with the haunting ?Snow Roses,? with its exquisite harmonies and eerie minor key arrangement is an impressively mature piece of work, as is the magisterial, ?Balero?-like, ?The Assignment Song ? Sequence,? a jaw-dropping, brain-frying, psychedelic jam that?s got to be experienced to be truly believed and enjoyed in all its 9-minute glory!
Jan was married to her manager, Douglas Grahm, and received her masters degree in music from Harvard. Her daughter, Taki (Greek for ?loved one?), handles lead vocals on the pleasantly silly ?Number 33,? and a posting from Taki?s husband on the Waxidermy website indicates that Jan Grahm passed away in 1994; however, Lorraine is alive and well and currently teaches guitar in the Palmdale area of southern California. Their album (and careers) deserved a much better fate than consignment to the remainder bins of obscurity and ?Gypsy People? can rightly be hailed as one of the lost gems of the 60s and deserves to be in any music lover?s collection. It is also a fertile mining ground for revival efforts by today?s top female folk/psychsters like Marissa Nadler and Sharron Kraus and is one of the best releases on the fledgling Fallout imprint. 8/10 -- Jeff Penczak (23 January, 2007)